Barack Obama enters office today with a realistic shot of becoming one of the most powerful presidents in history, writes Barton Gellman in the Washington Post. Historians and officials in the outgoing and incoming administrations agree the presidency is already at or near an apex of power, and Obama’s popularity, combined with the many crises he faces, could push his authority yet higher.
George W. Bush in particular pushed executive power to its limits, but Congress’ influence was dwindling even before that. “He certainly comes into office with a very powerful set of executive authorities,” says the leader of Obama’s transition team. “Political power gives him the capacity, I suppose, to kind of roll over his opposition.”